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Making plans for your future, or coming up with New Year’s Resolutions, is difficult if you believe you’re unreliable and prone to failure.

It’s easy to focus on the things you don’t do well that other people seem to handle easily. It’s equally easy to dismiss your abilities and talents and accomplishments, because you tell yourself, “Well, that was easy.” Yes, easy for YOU! “Well, that was fun and interesting.” Right. Fun and interesting to YOU!

So, as you look to the future, TotallyADD’s Rick Green explains how to cut yourself some slack about the past.

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Planning Ahead When You Have Adult ADHD

Well the calendar on the wall tells me it’s the end of December, it’s the end of the year and oh I had an optometrist appointment today. Oh shoot! Now, New Year’s is that arbitrary date that we manage to turn into another opportunity to feel bad about ourselves, and it doesn’t have to be that way, but it probably is going to be that way.

The end of the year, it draws to a close, we’re supposed to look back and assess the last 12 months and plan ahead for the next 12 months but with ADHD there’s an extra challenge, two of them, the first one is looking back over the last 12 months, the second is planning ahead for the next 12 months. Why? Well let’s just talk about the year that’s ending, the reviewing, looking back, we ask what worked? What didn’t? but those with ADHD I’ve noticed tend to go with what went wrong, what were the failures, what did I do badly, what were the mistakes, what were the defeats, where was I bad?

What about the good stuff, the victories, the successes, the stuff that really worked out for us? Well we tend to do three things. The first thing we do is we shrug them off, we dismiss them, that’s no big deal, yeah I lost 20 pounds but I said I was going to lose 35.   The second thing we do we forget our accomplishments, huh oh yeah I learned German but that’s just kind of like…. and the third thing we do, and this is my big one is that we don’t even experience them. It’s not that we’ve forgotten them it’s that we never remembered them in the first place. The result for many ADDers is a feeling of I’ve made no progress, nothing’s changed, it’s the same stuff, I’m not moving forward.

The only way to have your ADHD totally managed is to have a life that’s small. So the question to ask is are things improving and unfortunately the person who is least qualified to answer that question is you because you’re inside of it and unless you’ve been journaling and tracking the rate of failures and successes and number of times you lose things you have no idea, you’re relying on your memory and your memory is not reliable because it’s filtered through emotions, through beliefs and for you also you’re ADHD.

So how do you tell if you’re progressing? You ask the people around you, see here’s the thing, human beings are not very good at self-assessment but we are awesome at judging everybody around us, assessing everybody. Now before you go off and ask everybody in your life ‘hey how do you think I’m doing?’ a warning, a caution, a caveat, don’t ask people who are mad at you or who don’t believe in ADHD or who have something to gain by cruelty or flattery and also don’t ask anyone who you owe money to, which iI know eliminates a lot of people.

Now I’m lucky, I can check in with my wife and the psychologist I see a few times a year and some of my family members because they notice things that I don’t, I mean I barely taste the food I’m eating, I’m usually so in my head, am I noticing how often I lose my phone? And if you are going to do self-assessment please be generous with yourself, be overly generous, and focus on the successes. I mean don’t deny that there was some, or pretend that they it was really good ‘hey my car caught fire this year, wasn’t that great because the heat kept us warm and we got to meet all those wonderful firemen’ no it was my car let that one go, focus on the successes that’s where the value is, that’s what matters your successes your strengths, that’s where your future lies and then you can look ahead to next year, focusing on those strengths but before you look ahead to next year and start making resolutions look back at this year and notice every success. Do it with someone, see if you can list them out because you’ve had them and you don’t even know it.


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  • One Comment

    1. Otterbear December 27, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      “Making plans for your future,…is difficult if you believe you’re unreliable and prone to failure.”

      This really struck a cord with me. I’ve been “stuck” for a long time, and I believe this gets to the core of the problem. All the frustration and depression may be a result of this underlying problem. Knowing I’ll eventually “run out of steam” on a given task or, forget to finish the project, make that appointment, or call the plumber…tends to make me not want to even start. Then there is the anxiety of starting anyway and stressing about when I’ll screw it up, how much I’ll get done before I “crash” or get distracted. Its a bit paralyzing. My father-in-law called it Analysis Paralysis. I’m not sure what cure their is, or if there really is one but, this surely gets to the root of the problem for me.

      Well said. *I haven’t even watched the video yet. :)

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